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North Adams Mayor, Councilor Envision Teamwork, Risk to Tackle Challenges
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
12:47PM / Monday, January 01, 2024
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The new City Council is sworn in on Monday morning by City Clerk Tina Leonesio.

McCann School Committee member George Canales, left, and North Adams School Committee members Cody Chamberlain and Alyssa Tomkowicz wait for the ceremony to start.

New City Council President Bryan Sapienza addresses his colleagues.

Councilor Ashley Shade is sworn in as vice president.

New councilors Deanna Morrow, Peter Breen and Andrew Fitch pull names and seat numbers.

Mayor Jennifer Macksey is escorted into the chamber by Councilors Keith Bona and Peter Oleskiewcz.

The mayor addresses some of the challenges ahead as she enters her second term.


Mayor Jennifer Macksey is sworn in for her second term in the corner office. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A new government was sworn in on New Year's morning with a call for teamwork and a pledge for a "deep dive" into the city's challenges this new year. 
"I will continue to be a forward-thinking leader, a leader that North Adams deserves and we will put plans into action and sustain the future of this community," said Mayor Jennifer Macksey in her second term inaugural address. "The days of kicking the can down the road are done. We need to think outside the box. Take a few risks. Experiment a little bit, as governing like we've always done won't work for a new North Adams."
The biennial Organization of Government was held at 11 a.m. in City Council Chambers, swearing in a council consisting of incumbents Lisa Blackmer, Keith Bona, Peter Oleskiewicz, Bryan Sapienza, Ashley Shade and Wayne Wilkinson and newcomers Peter Breen, Andrew Fitch and Deanna Morrow. 
The councilors were sworn in by City Clerk Tina Leonesio, who opened the meeting, as were School Committee members Alyssa Tomkowicz and Cody Chamberlain and McCann School committee members Peter Breen and George Canales. School Committee member Tara Jacobs and McCann member William Diamond did not attend the ceremony.
Sapienza was elected as council president for the next year on a nomination by Fitch and second by Blackmer. Wilkinson nominated Oleskiewicz but the first vote went to Sapienza. Shade was elected as vice president, also on a nomination and second by Fitch and Blackmer.
Just ending a term as vice president, Sapienza said he was honored and proud that the council body had elected him as president and that he looked forward to serving in that capacity. He congratulated the returning and new members of the council. 
"It's an exciting time in North Adams, many good things are happening and it's great to be a part of it all," he said. "We have a lot of work ahead of us in the upcoming term and it is going to take a team, a team that can work together for the common good of our city and its people. 
We are that team, a body of nine people that may express nine different ideas but at the end of the day, have come to a consensus that will benefit our city."
Each member is coming with their own strengths or expertise, Sapienza said. "A great team will work with that knowledge to make this an effective group and to get the things that we need done."
He expressed the need to work with the mayor and the committees, boards, and commissions that make up the government and reminded his fellow councilors that they were elected to represent the concerns of their constituents and that "we not here to further our own purposes."
After committee and liaison assignments were announced (see slideshow above), the three newest councilors drew the seating arrangements for the year. Breen held the containers as Fitch drew names and Morrow seat assignments. The councilors will move to their new seats at the next meeting. 
Blacker, Bona and Oleskiewicz were sent to escort the mayor into the chamber to take her oath of office and give her inaugural address. 
She provided some levity by responding "state your name" to the traditional recitation of the oath but quickly turned to more serious matters — including bridges — during her speech. 
"I pledged two years ago that my administration is here to help people. That government will be effective, efficient, inclusive, and will enhance the quality of all of our citizens. Each day that is my mission," she said, adding "it is no secret that we have our challenges."
"City government is a special place. It is the level closest to its people. So we must focus on the big and the small, every road, every bridge — God knows we have those — and every streetlight, classroom and every investment lay an important foundation for greater change and a better North Adams."
She promised "a deep dive into education, infrastructure, economic development, addiction and homeless support and a large focus on marketing North Adams' beautiful natural resources."
Macksey said she'd listened to many citizens over the past two years — from obstacles to starting businesses to blight to education to domestic abuse — and pledged that her administration would continue to be inclusive and open as it tackled those issues. She believed that the councilors would be good working partners who would support but also challenge her decisions. 
"I have confidence in a vision that drives a version of optimistic reinvesting in this community, rebuilding out from the core involving all who live here," the mayor said. "I have confidence in the citizens who will engage with passion for their city with a spirit of generosity, compassion and acceptance. 
"And I have confidence in the city that social justice matters, where inclusion matters and where every single child will have the opportunity they deserve."
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